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South Jersey

Monday, June 4, 2001
Bright lights to cast ship's long shadow

Courier-Post Staff

The Statue of Liberty dazzles the onlooker in daylight, but at night she sparkles with lights that illuminate her from the torch she holds in one hand to the bottom of her Roman robe.

The company that designed her lighting during restoration in 1989 has been hired to do the same work for the USS New Jersey museum. The ship is set to open for public tours Sept. 2 on the Camden Waterfront.

The Gibson Tarquini Group, a Camden architectural firm, has retained Brandston Partnership of New York City for the lighting design to make the ship highly visible at night.

Officials of the Home Port Alliance, the South Jersey nonprofit group awarded the ship by the Navy last year, say they hope the battleship will become as visible a symbol here as the Statue of Liberty is in New York Harbor.

Alliance Executive Director Thomas Seigenthaler said the intent is to make the ship a "spectacular presentation" from both sides of the river.

John Gibson, Gibson Tarquini president, said his company chose Brandston as the lighting subcontractor because of its impressive accomplishments, including the Statue of Liberty and the tallest buildings in the world - the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia.

The entire silhouette of the 887-foot steel ship - largest of the Navy battleships - will be visible at night, said Gibson, a Camden native.

Robert Prouse, a partner in Brandston, said the challenge will be to light the ship in a way that is bright, attractive and dignified.

"It is not a theme park after all," Prouse said. "It is something not to be trivialized. It is a magnificent piece of sculpture that will be sitting there in the river and we will use various light sources of varying intensity to bring to life its three-dimensional quality," he said.

Prouse said the entire hull, the three main 16-inch gun turrets and the superstructure will be lit.

In addition to lighting, the Gibson Tarquini contract also covers the walkways along the T-shaped pier being built, as well as a small visitor center on the riverbank behind the Tweeter Center. Other members of the team are Remington and Vernick of Haddonfield and Pennoni Associates of Philadelphia.

Gibson said visitors will enter a 200-foot memorial brick walkway and pass 19, 9-foot-high lighted granite sentinels representing each of the 19 stars the Navy awarded the ship. The stars are for various battles and campaigns from World War II to its tour in the Persian Gulf in 1990-91 before it was retired.

That walkway will lead to the 450-foot access pier along which the ship will be moored. Two towers of stairs will lead visitors to a gangway onto the ship and elevators in the towers will also make the ship accessible to the handicapped.

"As an architect, I was doubly fascinated with the shape of the ship," Gibson said. "If you stand in front of it looking up at the bow, you see how beautifully streamlined its curves are. The intricacy and complexity of the entire ship is amazing."

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